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Frontiers in Science: Stimulating Scientific Thinking

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January 8, 2003. This past semester the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) assisted Professors David Helfand, Darcy Kelley and Horst Stormer on a series of lectures titled Frontiers in Science at the Miller Theatre. The series, which continues this spring with three additional lectures, is a prelude to a possible new approach to science in the Core Curriculum. The professors hope to institute a one-semester course, required of all first-year students with lectures such as those in this series.

In addition to the development of the dynamic presentations the professors use during the lecture, CCNMTL has helped define the pedagogical perspective of the discussion sections and the planning of an online casebook supporting the course objectives and competencies. The web-based casebook will illustrate notions of estimation, uncertainty, graphs, models, and perspective that will stimulate scientific thinking and discovery.

The fall lectures concluded with Professor Horst Stormer's talk titled Small Wonders: The World of Nano-Science. One goal of the talk was to provide an insight on the nano-scale and our ability to manipulate it. This was highlighted when Professor Stormer invited a student to the stage to move a single atom at a California research lab with a program that remotely controlled the equipment in California.

All the fall lectures were videotaped and edited for future use with other online materials for the course. The spring lineup include Wallace Broecker, Don Melnick, and Nick Turro. The next lecture is scheduled for February 3, 2003.